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Sticks and stones and snake oil: What will inform next chapter of healthcare IT development?

July 2016
MedCity News


[The following column was authored by PatientKeeper CEO Paul Brient]

Name calling often gets attention, but it rarely solves problems. So when the CEO of the American Medical Association, Dr. James Madara, recently called healthcare IT "the digital snake oil of the early 21st century,” his words were widely reported, though not uniformly praised.

His inflammatory analogy aside, Dr. Madara had a valid point: many physicians are indeed incredibly frustrated with the majority of healthcare IT solutions. What’s more, the usability improvements that Dr. Madara called for are completely reasonable and appropriate.

No other industry on Earth has accepted lower productivity and efficiency as a result of computerization. Do accountants spend more time doing a company’s books using computers than they did by hand? Of course not. Or imagine Netflix subscribers spending twice the amount of time trying to navigate the on-screen interface than it would take to simply pop in a DVD or drive to the local theater. Consumers simply wouldn’t deal with it.

But that’s the way it is in healthcare. Physicians routinely spend more time doing things on a computer than they used to when all patient records and clinical processes were paper-based.  That’s a huge drain on an already over-taxed healthcare system, and especially on physicians, who are healthcare’s most valuable and expensive resource.

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